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War in the Shadow of Auschwitz: Memoirs of a Polish Resistance Fighter and Survivor of the Death Camps (Religion, Theology and the Holocaust) Hardcover – December 1, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
In this simple but harrowing memoir, Wiernicki recounts his involvement with the Polish underground and his subsequent imprisonment in Nazi labor and death camps. What emerges is a raw expose of the evil perpetrated against millions, the "deliberate, cold, premeditated murder of innocent people." Wiernicki's young, privileged existence fundamentally changes in the summer of 1939, when the Germans invade Poland. Within 28 days, the German forces wreak havoc on the entire nation, but they focus on burning synagogues and splintering families within Jewish communities. A proud Pole, Wiernicki joins the Polish resistance movement an impassioned but fragmented and necessarily secretive group as a freedom fighter. After being captured and tortured by the Gestapo, Wiernicki, a gentile, meets a fate similar to that of the millions of Jews whose extermination he soon witnesses. Wiernicki captures the brutality of the SS men as well as the total dehumanization of the inmates the reason they are unable to wield any resistance within the camps. Particularly startling are Wiernicki's accounts of the guards' sadistic behavior; that other authors have told these tales before does not lessen their power. Frightened prisoners are forced to sing at the whim of an SS man on penalty of death; women are humiliated and abused. Ruthless beatings and brutal kickings are the norm, Wiernicki writes, even during routine work. That the author is a gentile survivor makes his testimony especially significant at a time when Holocaust denial is defended by some as academic freedom. 17 photos.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Wiernicki, a Polish partisan, was captured by the Gestapo in 1943 and sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. From there he was sent to Buchenwald, and he escaped during a death march in April 1945 as the Germans forced 2,000 prisoners to flee ahead of advancing Allied troops. The author begins his memoir with a brief description of his prewar years growing up in the city of Lwow, his summer vacations, and his year at the military academy of Lwow, where he had planned to spend the next four years. He then writes of his life as a resistance fighter before being captured. Wiernicki, a gentile, recounts the killing of Jews in Auschwitz-Birkenau and describes his encounters with Josef Mengele and Heinz Thilo, the infamous SS doctors who conducted medical experiments on prisoners. Wiernicki's memoir, which includes 17 black-and-white photographs, is a haunting and intimate account of the Holocaust, written with an almost unbearable clarity. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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The adventures he experienced, both before Auschwitz and with his escape, are the stuff of adventure stories, and he writes them well. But the story of camp life is something else. It's hard to believe it actually happened. His descriptions the prisoners and their interactions are touchingly real.
This book is very hard (emotionally) to read, but it is important.
To anybody who doubts that the Holocaust ever happened, please read this book.